Covid-19 stealing thunder from FA Cup

The world’s oldest football competition resumes tomorrow morning when Liverpool travels to Aston Villa (3.45am) in the third round of the FA Cup.

Liverpool’s away form has been atrocious but it has a chance to bounce when it plays a weakened Villa outfit.

The match is one of several to be affected by Covid-19 as Aston Villa will field an Under-23 team after a “significant” Covid-19 outbreak at the club.

Villa Park was where the Reds suffered a humiliating 7-2 defeat in the league earlier in the season. In December 2019, Villa hammered Liverpool’s youngest-ever team 5-0 in the League Cup semifinals.

Then, Liverpool chose to field a side with an average age of 19 years and 182 days as its senior team was playing in the Club World Cup in Qatar.

Villa is not the only club struggling to field a team.

Derby manager Wayne Rooney and his entire first-team squad will miss the FA Cup match against non-league Chorley tomorrow (8.15pm) following a Covid-19 outbreak.

Southampton’s FA Cup clash against Shrewsbury Town tomorrow (11pm) has been called off after several players and staff at the third-tier club tested positive.

Southampton has had its own problems with goalkeeper Alex McCarthy also testing positive.

Due to the impact of the pandemic on the game at all levels this season, the FA has made it clear to all competing clubs that ties must go ahead if they can field a minimum of 14 fit players.

Forty positive Covid-19 cases were discovered over two rounds of Premier League testing late last month and early this month, with three matches postponed.

Selected FA Cup fixtures (Malaysian time)

Aston Villa vs Liverpool (3.45am)
Wolves vs Crystal Palace (3.45am)
Everton vs Rotherham (8.15pm)
Blackpool vs West Brom (11pm)
Bristol Rovers vs Sheffield United (11pm)
Burnley vs MK Dons (11pm)
Stoke vs Leicester (11pm)
Queens Park Rangers vs Fulham (11pm)

Arsenal vs Newcastle (1.30am)
Manchester United vs Watford (4am)
Crawley Town vs Leeds (9.30pm)
Chelsea vs Morecambe (9.30pm)
Manchester City vs Birmingham (9.30pm)

Marine vs Tottenham (1am)
Newport vs Brighton (3.45am)
Stockport vs West Ham (4am)

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